A Digest of DEBKAfile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in Week Ending June 12, 2014
June 6, 2014 Briefs
- Exactly 47 years ago, the IAF grounded the Egyptian and Syrian air fleets
In three hours of crushing air strikes, Israeli air crews preemptively gave the Jewish state its first advantage in the 1967 war launched by Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon which ended in a lightning Israeli victory six days later. Those historic air strikes took place exactly 47 years ago.
Sadly, while 18 world leaders attended ceremonies in Normandy Friday, to mark the 70th anniversary of the allied D-Day landings, Israel appeared to have forgotten the anniversary of its own remarkable victory and the courage of the men who won the 1967 war against huge odds.
- Israeli FM praises Australia’s “honest and fair” policy toward Israel
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman lauded Australia’s position on the controversial question of the legality of settler homes as “honest and fair.” He cited this week’s statement to the Senate by Australian Attorney-General George Brandis, who said: "The description of East Jerusalem as 'occupied' East Jerusalem is a term freighted with pejorative implications which is neither appropriate nor useful, he said: "It should not and will not be the practice of the Australian government to describe areas of negotiation in such judgmental language."
June 7, 2014 Briefs
- First major Syrian rebel tank, artillery attack on southern army position
The Syrian civil war took a dramatic turn in the south Saturday with the first major rebel attack with tanks and artillery, staged against the Syrian army Tel Jam’a position in Deraa in the South, which commands the highways to Damascus and Quneitra. debkafile’s military sources report this was the first time that in the more than three-year war that the rebels fielded a large, well-ordered force armed with tanks and heavy 120mm mortars.
- Al Qaeda storms Iraqi university, takes many hostages
Al Qaeda gunmen stormed the Anbar University campus in the northwest town of Ramadi and are holding dozens of Iraqi students hostage.
Egypt’s president punishes Hamas, Jihadi Islami in Gaza, fires up strife in Palestinian government
7 June. President of Egypt Abdul-Fattah El Sisi, before taking the oath of office Tuesday, June 10, became the first regime head to strike out at the Palestinian unity government installed in Ramallah on June 24. He has strengthened the siege on Hamas in the Gaza strip and insists that the Rafah crossing stays shut unless Hamas hands control over to the Palestinian Authority, which will never happen. debkafile: This places the reconciled Palestinian partners at odds over who calls the shots in the Gaza Strip, the first major test of their unity government.
June 8, 2014 Briefs
- Twin bombings kill at least 18 at Kurdish party HQ in Diyala
A suicide attack followed by a car bombing Sunday struck the offices of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani’s Patriotic Union of Kurdistan party in the town of Jalawla, killing at least 18 people.
- Abdul Fattah El-Sisi sworn in as Egyptian president
Ex-army chief Abdul Fattah El-Sisi, 59,was sworn in Sunday for a four year term as Egyptian president after winning the May election by a landslide. Security forces were deployed at key locations around Cairo..
- Abbas: Unity is contingent on PA control of Gaza crossings
Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas demanded Sunday that his Presidential Guard take over the Gaza Strip-Egyptian Sinai crossings and borders as his condition for the Fatah-Hamas reconciliation to last.
- Netanyahu praises Australia for refuting the “lie” on Jerusalem
At the Sunday cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu noted that “Hamas leaders again declared their intention to destroy Israel. It was a mistake to assume that the coalition between Hamas and Fatah would moderate the latter,” he said. “The very opposite: Hamas is increasing its control in Judea and Samaria.” Netanyahu praised Australia for refuting the “lie” that east Jerusalem is “occupied territory.”
US delegation told by White House: Don’t leave talks with Iran without an “improved” interim deal
8 June: The US delegation to the bilateral talks with Iranian officials taking place in Geneva on June 9-10 is directed by the White House not to leave empty-handed. Bill Burns and Jake Sullivan, the lead negotiators, were told to give Iran enough incentives to accept an “improved interim accord.” This would help the administration disguise the impasse reached by the P5+1 negotiations, with a slim chance of a nuclear accord by the July 20 deadline – or even by the extended timeline of Jan. 15, 2015 (first revealed by debkafile on May 24.) Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has forbidden President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohamed Javad Zarif to make any further concessions.
June 9, 2014 Briefs
- NATO launches full-scale war exercise in Baltic region near Russia
Around 4700 troops and 800 military vehicles from 10 countries including Britain, Canada and the United States are participating in the Sabre Strike exercises in the Baltic, the biggest since Russia’s annexation of Crimea. Moscow voiced its objections.
- Security stepped up at Pakistan’s nuclear facilities after Taliban’s airport attack
Pakistan stepped up security Monday around its nuclear facilities, military bases and government offices after a raid by 10 heavily armed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan attackers brought chaos to Karachi international airport and killed 34 people.
- Gantz: Iran holds to its nuclear vision, which is preventable
IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz said Monday that Russia sends weekly arms supplies to the Syrian army. “The conventional threat to Israel has slightly diminished,” he said, but “Iran has not given up on its nuclear vision and will cling to it by every means. This can be prevented, with or without force, he said.
Gantz: IDF gets set to target 50,000 Al Qaeda fighters piling up around Israel in Syria and Iraqi
9 June: IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz’s cryptic remark Monday, June 6 that “The Israeli Air Force will next month dramatically change its mode of operation,” meant that a decision has been taken to start directing the IAF’s fire power against military and terrorist targets in the Syrian and Iraqi arenas – in particular the Al Qaeda forces foregathering ever closer to Israel’s borders with Syria, Iraq and Jordan. The general meant not just warplanes, but also Israel’s long-range unmanned aerial vehicles and helicopters. A different kind of enemy, which he estimated at 50,000, is at our door. It is “more mobile, better at concealment and comes from farther away.” He spoke of reshaping the army and intelligence units in accordance with the new needs.
June 10, 2014 Briefs
- FM Lieberman embarks on 10-state Africa tour
Accompanied by 50 business leaders, Israel’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman sets off Tuesday for a swing of African states including Rwanda, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Ethiopia and Kenya.
- Iraqi Islamists break 1,000 terrorists out of Mosul jail
Reuven Rivlin wins the presidency in a run-off vote
10 June. Reuven Rivlin, 75, Likud stalwart and twice Knesset Speaker, was elected Israeli’s tenth president by the Knesset on Tuesday, June 10, against four contenders. After failing to draw a majority in the first round of voting, he won 63 out of the 120 Knesset votes against his runner-up MK Meir Sheetrit. Rivlin’s victory is one up for his party’s right-wing: he is against territorial concessions in Jerusalem and wants Israel to keep the West Bank. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu opposed the Rivlin candidacy but came around to it at the last minute. The election is seen as a political blow to the prime minister.
Al Qaeda-ISIS conquers Iraqi Mosul, links up with Syrian front for core of Islamist state
10 June. Al Qaeda in Iraq (ISIS) captured the northern Iraqi oil city of Mosul, Iraq’s third largest city Tuesday, June 10, after the Iraqi military caved in. Iraqi ministers have sent desperate appeals to the Obama administration to save Baghdad. debkafile: Army command facilities in Mosul are ablaze and soldiers’ bodies lying in the streets. Fleeing convoys were destroyed With Mosul’s capture, ISIS chief Bakr Al-Baghdadi takes a flying leap towards his goal of an independent Islamist state in Iraq and Syria – a direct threat to Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Turkey and Israel.
June 11, 2014 Briefs
- debkafile: Bilateral US-Iranian nuclear talks prolonged
The bilateral nuclear talks between the US and Iran supposed to have ended in Geneva Tuesday night were extended, according to debkafile’s Washington sources. Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns and Vice President Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan were told to keep the talks going until an accord was reached. The Iranian delegation is led by Deputy Foreign Miniser Abbas Araqchi.
- Nuclear talks with Iran “hit a wall” on Day Two
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius reported Wednesday that day two of the Six-Power nuclear talks with Iran in Geneva had “hit a wall.” Nothing was agreed except minor “technical points.”
- ISIS storms Turkish consulate in Mosul, takes 80 hostages
Al Qaeda-Iraq stormed the Turkish Consulate in Mosul Wednesday and took 48 hostages including the consul and three children.
- Eric Cantor’s startling ouster stuns US politics and Jewish orgs
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (Va.), the chamber’s second-ranking Republican, was badly beaten in a primary contest Tuesday by an obscure economics professor, David Brat, with tea party backing, who gained 55 percent of the vote – a historic electoral surprise that left the GOP in chaos and the House without its heir apparent. Cantor was on track to be the highest-ranking Jewish official in American political history before his unparalleled defeat stunned American politics.
Al Qaeda forms up to march on Baghdad, gathering up Iraqi Sunni insurgents
11 June. Under its commander, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, Al Qaeda’s Islamic State in Iraq and Levant – ISIS – formed up Wednesday night, June 6, to march on Baghdad in two columns from Tikrit and Tuz Khormato, south of Kirkuk. Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki ordered the last two divisions and six mechanized brigades still operational with 50,000 men, out of his million-strong army, to build a defensive line to save Baghdad.
Disaffected Iraqi Sunnis, including retired members of Saddam Hussein’s Baath, are joining Al Qaeda’s march and turning it into an insurgency against the Shiite-led government. Maliki accuses them of treasonably conspiring with the Islamists against his government.
Wednesday alone, in a lightening push, ISIS fighters captured the Iraqi oil refinery and electricity power center of Biji (Baiji), 200 km southeast of Mosul, torched the court and police buildings and warned local police and soldiers not to challenge them. They next moved south to seize Hawajah and Tikrit, Saddam Hussein’s birthplace, 140 km northwest of Baghdad.
After Mosul, Al Qaeda seizes 38,000 sq. km of Iraqi territory, division-size armored vehicle fleet
11 June. After occupying the northern Iraqi oil town of Mosul, Al Qaeda’s ISIS (Islamist State of Iraq and the Levant) went on to seize more slices of Nineveh province. By Wednesday, June 11, they were in control of around 38,000 sq. km. or one-tenth of Iraqi territory and 3.5 million inhabitants. They have also taken over the main Iraq-Syrian crossing at Yaaroubiyeh. The Islamists rode out of Mosul Tuesday with 260 new armored vehicles of various types – enough to arm a full division – and put half a million refugees to flight.
June 12, 2014 Briefs
- Failed Iraqi parliament attendance for emergency plan
The Iraqi parliament failed to muster a quorum for approving the Shiite prime minister Nuri al-Maliki’s plan to impose a national state of emergency to ward off ISIS’s threatened march on Baghdad. Sunni and most Kurdish lawmakers absented themselves from the session.
- Israel air strike kills “global jihad-affiliated terrorist” in Gaza
An Israeli aircraft struck a target in the northern Gaza Strip Wednesday, killing one person and wounding three others, shortly after a Palestinian rocket from Gaza landed in southern Israel. He was identified as Mahmed Awwar, 33, a Salafi extremist, who had taken part in past rockets attacks on Israel, especially in recent months as a member of the Hamas police. Witnesses said he was riding a motorcycle when he was hit.
The Israeli military said that the joint operation with the Shin Bet security service targeted Awwar as a "global jihad-affiliated terrorist.” In a statement, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Israeli had carried out a "precise operation and will continue to act forcefully against those who try to hurt the security of Israel's citizens."